Monday, November 5, 2007

Week #9

This posting has been past due. We are still patiently waiting for our internet connection. This being the case it is very difficult for my wife and I to update our blogs on a regular basis. Thank you for continuing to follow our activities.

In the last few weeks we have had a few events to note. On the weekend of October 19 we went with the school for a trip to Vienna, Austria. The following weekend was a school holiday. This was good for me being that my birthday was that Friday. This last weekend, which would be the first one in November, was spent at home with my family.

Trip to Vienna
Our trip to Vienna started out on Friday, the 19th of October. My family and I left the town square at about 7 AM on a bus with students and teachers from the glass schools in Kamenicky Senov and Novy Bor.

After traveling for a couple of hours we made a stop for relief. I mention this because I bought a wonderful DVD for my son to watch during the drive. For those of you who do not know we have a portable DVD player for these type of occasions. The DVD was a Czech claymation program of the characters Pat and Mat (Pat a Mat). There is no talking, just action so it is delightful even if you have no knowledge of the Czech language.

Our first scheduled stop of interest was in Trebic. We stopped here to visit a very beautiful basilica of Saint Prokopa. It was an interesting stop. However, I and my wife did not get a chance to see much of the interior. Our son is intimidated by the dark and overwhelming interiors of some of the cathedrals. After this we made a brief stop in Brno to visit Moravske Gallerie to see works primarily from Czech and Slovak artists that emigrated out of the Czech Republic during the communist period.

Finally we arrived at our hostel in Mikulov, just north of the Austrian boarder, still in the Czech Republic. We used this hostel as a base. Saturday and Sunday we would travel about an hour to Vienna and back in the evenings.

The first day we started by visiting the J. & L. Lobmeyer Firm. This is a very important glass company that has a close connection to Kamenicky Senov. Lobmeyer has worked with artists, primarily in Northern Bohemia for the last 100 years. We were very honored to have a guided tour of the gallery and showroom by Petr Rath, one of the decendents of the Lobmeyer family, and his son. Petr Rath has also continued his family tradition of working with artists in Kamenicky Senov. He started his own private venture and opened a small glass cutting studio in Kamenicky Senov which he will be handing over to different management this year.

After this visit Petr Rath took us for a small tour of the center of Vienna. It was great to have a native, especially someone with such an appreciation for art and design, to walk us through the area. He provided very a informed narrative of the area, buildings, architecture, people and personality of Vienna.

Later we visited the Albertina Museum. We were able to view some great works of the masters from the earlier part of the 20th century. It was very inspiring.

Then we returned to our hostel for the evening. After searching for some time we finally found a place to have dinner. However we were left with smazeny syr (fried cheese) and some salad.

On Sunday, we went back to Vienna. We visited a few more museums. The first museum we visited was the Museum of Applied Arts (Museum fur angewandte Kunst - MAK). Here we saw the works of the Wiener Werkstatte. This exhibit had work from the famous designers of the period such as Josef Hoffmann.

The second museum we went to was The Belvedere Museum. My wife and I had the most interest in seeing works by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. It was great at this museum because there is a large open room with frescos and decorated in the Boroque style but with large velvet covered balls. This was the best part for my son, Thomas. He had a wonderful time rolling, bouncing and climbing on these balls.

Afterwards, we the group went to visit another museum. Instead of going we decided to check out a local famous restaurant/hotel, Sacher. They are famous for the “Sacher Tort”. This is a kind of chocolate cake. We got the cake and some coffee. Unfortunately, I have to say that the legend is more of a myth. The cake was very dry, not very tasteful and the coffee was sub-par. BUT now we can say that we have been to and experienced the famous Sacher Restaurant and “Sacher Tort”.

We then took a stroll around the city. We went back to the museum to meet the group and for our colleague to view some exhibits. We found a street vendor who was selling flaffels. It was nice to have something a bit different and something like we can find at home.

Then we took off for our return home. On our way out of the city we visited and area where the building were designed by the painter, Hundertwasser. It was a very surreal street. If there were a street to live on this would be it. It was very lively, but of course a little bit commercial. Finally we left the city.

The next week has not been too eventful. I went to visit a factory that produces some tools for the glass cutting industry. Mainly, I have been just trying to focus on some research and making some new sculpture.

I did have my birthday, which was nice because it straddled two days. On Thursday, we had a couple of friend over for dinner and cake. The next day, we went for some dinner at Penzion u Tumu. This is a nice place because the food is very good and has a designated “no smoking” area.

Now I am preparing for a visit from my Fulbright colleagues and staff members from the Fulbright Commission in the Czech Republic. They will be coming an open house at the school in Kamenicky Senov. The plan is to visit some glass museums, glass factories and the school.

There will be some photos posted later.